The Lord has wrecked me through the reading of Gaining by Losing by JD Greear, through the reading of Insanity of God by Nik Ripken, and through the meeting with John, Russell, and Michael discussing the book. There were so many things that God revealed to me through these books and through the meeting that I can’t even begin to process all that the Lord is doing in my life right now. I was brought to the point where I felt like weeping in the meeting, and even shed a few tears on the way home. The Lord is stirring a deep conviction in my heart and I’m not quite sure what all it is yet, but I know through prayer and through the reading of His Word, He will make what He wants made known to me because my God is not a God of confusion.
Even though I’m still a student, not a pastor, and not even in ministry yet, I think God revealed some things to me about the church that He wants me to realize. I’m not quite sure why, but I know He is wanting to show me some things. Whether that means me being a pastor of a church, a church planter, or just a faithful member at a church, I know the Lord had me read this book for a reason and stirred my emotions like He did. When Vince Lombardi held up the football to his team and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football”, I think this is what God is wanting to do with the church right now. He is desperately wanting to show us all, all churches, what the church is supposed to be all about. The church is not supposed to be comfortable, it’s not supposed to be something that people come to to hear what they want to hear, feel good about themselves, take advantage of some programs that benefit them, drink coffee, sing feel good “worship” songs, have a fashion show of who is wearing the best clothes, who drove the nicest car to the church, and have people over to “fellowship” all while parading our possessions and material wealth so other people will see how “rich” we are when in reality we are so spiritually dead. Satan has the church right where he wants it in America. We are so comfortable, so relaxed, so complacent in our dead faith, that he wants to keep us right where we are. When I read about the persecution of other churches in other parts of the world and people literally dying for their faith, it’s because their faith has works. What they are doing in the church is radically changing their communities, their workplaces, and their entire lives. It’s not just confined to four walls in a church building where they can read the bible, “talk” theology, drink coffee, share a meal together, sing songs, “pray”, and feel good about themselves, and then go about their lives. Persecution is present in those other places because those churches are being DOERS of the Word. Things are happening, lives are being changed, people are going and telling everyone they know about what they just heard and governments, leaders, and The Enemy is feeling threatened by all that is going on. That’s why persecution is present. Why would Satan want to wake us up in America? Why would He want to send something our way that would cause people to stand up for the faith when we aren’t standing up for the faith right now when everything is perfectly fine? People always ask why persecution is happening to people on the other side of the world, but aren’t we asking the wrong question? Shouldn’t we be asking why aren’t we persecuted? That’s the question, that I think, if we really take a step back and think about it will begin to wreck us to our very core.
One of the main things that JD talked about in his book is that we all have “seeds” that the Lord has blessed us with. These seeds are our resources, our people, and things in our community that the Lord has uniquely blessed us with. When you plant a seed you are essentially “giving the seed up” in hopes that it springs up into a plant and bears fruit. We are to do the same thing with everything that the Lord has blessed us with. We are to take what God has given us and give it all back to Him. When we send someone out, we are “giving up” that person to fulfill the Great Commission and make disciples of all nations. We can’t truly do this and fulfill what the Lord has called us to do if we hold onto everything that He has given us. Do you have a big house? Give it to the Lord and open your doors to the people. Do you have a lot of time? Give it to the Lord and invest it into people. What is your gift, your passion? Give it to the Lord and use it to further His Kingdom. Take what the Lord has given you and USE IT for the only cause that has eternal weight.
Another one of the main things that was discussed in the book is the risk involved with doing all of this. It’s scandalous, different, edgy, difficult, inconvenient, and downright dirty to do all of these things that the Bible calls us to do in the church. But isn’t that exactly what the Gospel is? We are called to take up our crosses every day. What does that look like for the church? It’s risky to do anything that the Bible calls us to do, but if we truly believe that we serve the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God who is also the most loving, doesn’t it make it worth whatever risk He is calling us to do? Why would we not want to give up our best resources, our best leaders, our best members, our best facilities to fulfill the Great Commission? Do we really believe the Bible if we aren’t doing the things that He has called us to do? Do we really believe we are called to make disciples of all nations if we are complacent in coming to church, doing nothing with it, and leaving? What has to change for us to go do these things?
All of this was a gut check for me. Do I really believe the Gospel? Do I really believe that I serve an all powerful, all knowing, ever-present God? Is my life evident of those things? What am I doing in my life because of those things? I came to the conclusion… Nothing. Here I am reading all of these theology books, reading my bible, wanting to grow deeper and deeper in knowledge of different things, but has my life changed at all? Has my life changed any more than just wanting to be a better person and try not to sin as much and hold onto the moral values of the Bible? All of these things are good and well, but that’s not what God has called me to the in the Bible. He has called me to GO and MAKE DISCIPLES. I’m not doing that in my life. I’m not consistently going out and finding people to pour into and further in their faith. I’m not trying to find people to disciple. I’m not trying to build relationships with others and tell them about the greatest news in the history of the universe. Do I really believe that I possess the greatest news of all time if I’m not going out and sharing it with people? Am I so Gospel saturated that it overflows into every area of my life? Do I have so much joy in my life because of what Christ did for me on the cross that people come up to me and ask where all this joy comes from? Am I being intentional with my time, my resources, my knowledge, and my passions to further God’s Kingdom? No.
So what has to change in MY life? I can’t expect to tell these things to students if I’m not practicing what I’m preaching. I want these things to be caught, not taught. I can’t talk without action, I can’t have empty excitement, I can’t have no excitement. If I really believe that if I’m going to be excellent then people will follow suit, then what do I have to do to be “excellent”?
I think the first thing that needs to happen for me is to put down the theology books for awhile. I love reading theology, reading about deep theological questions, and talking theology. But talking theology is just that. It’s talk. James says that faith without works is dead, and that’s exactly what my faith has been. It’s been dead. I’ve been so wrapped up in gaining all of this head knowledge and not letting it transfer over to heart knowledge. I have all of these books, theological matters in my head, but I’m not doing them. I’m not being a doer of the Word. I think it’s time for me to put down the theology books, practice what I know, and not pick up or research a theological matter until I’m faced with a situation with another person when they ask me a question and I don’t know what the answer is. Then I can pick up the books, research, and read until I find the answer. I think it’s time for me to not worry so much about what human, sinful, writers have to say about a subject, and worry about what the Creator of the Universe has to say to me through His Word.
I think I need to focus on saturating my life with the Gospel. If I really believe the Gospel and grasp what it really means, my life is going to look so much different than it is right now. Matt Chandler preached on this the other day, and if I really believe that my judgment day has already happened on the cross and that one day when I stand before God and have to give an account of all of the things that I’ve done, and when He pulls out my “file” it’s going to be dripping with the blood of Christ and say “holy, spotless, righteous, redeemed” then I need to focus on those things and not let the Gospel be only the diving board, but the pool. Because I’ve been restricting it to the diving board for my entire life. If I saturate my life with the Gospel and live out the Gospel, other people will follow suit. If I strive to be excellent in the Lord’s eyes, other people will follow suit.
I need to be gone, be present, be with people, build bridges of trust that can bear the weight of truth with everyone that I come into contact with, be impressed by people but not surprised by people, be engaged, and hold water.
I need to cry out to the Lord for all of these things, and I need to have other people crying out to the Lord for me and interceding for me about all of these things. God has stirred this conviction in my heart for a reason and He has had me read those books for a reason. He has me at Henderson Hills right now for a reason. He has me under John and Russell right now for a reason. He has me dating Jensen for a reason. All of these things are working together to sanctify me and to push me further in the faith. None of these things have happened by accident, and I need to cry out to the Lord for Him to reveal to me all the things that He wants to be revealed to me.